Recently a CVHS student was going out for a late afternoon run in just a sports bra and track shorts when her dad stopped her from walking out the door. He told her to put on a shirt and cover up, in fear that she might be in danger of sexual abuse while alone on her run.
Doesn’t this remark seem odd to you? That to prevent rape and sexual abuse it’s not the perverts we are trying to fix, but rather the potential victims themselves? Teenage girls’ clothing is a big issue in our society nowadays. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to wear whatever you wanted and not be treated differently?
We live with the stereotype all the time. Girls wearing shorts that might be considered “too short” are called “slutty” or “askin’ for it,” but by falling victim to these stereotypes you are only helping justify the issue at hand. The blame on woman for being the rape victim. In southern Africa, there is a kingdom called Swaziland. Just recently Swaziland has placed a ban on mini-skirts and low-rise jeans, because authorities say it promotes rape. “The act of the rapist is made easy, because it would be easy to remove the half-cloth worn by the women,” police spokeswoman Wendy Hleta was quoted as saying. She added that women dressing provocatively “will be arrested.” My thought is how can you even place promote and rape in the same sentence? Here we go again with women promoting rape upon themselves
There are even Bible verses of girls being stoned to death for being raped. “If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city. — Deuteronomy 22:23-24” In this verse, it is said the woman should die alongside her assaulter because she did not scream loud enough for help. How are we supposed to help victims heal or even speak of their assault when society blames them for it?
An article of clothing cannot be consent for sex. A low cut blouse does not speak for me. Being a young girl in high school I am fully aware of the choice in clothing teenage girls, and even I, make every day. We choose these styles because it’s our way of expressing ourselves, and it’s our way of being accepted. The shirts and shorts you call “skanky” are the clothes they sell at the mall. These are the clothes being advertised in commercials, music videos, and television shows that say this style is okay to wear. Then a girl is raped for no justified reason and we think it’s okay to say it was “her fault for wearing a skirt and heavy eyeliner.” How’s that for hypocritical?
I think the real problem is not the rapists themselves, but the people who make it possible for them. The people who make sure we all remember that the girl is blamed. A girl can go through lifelong depression from a rape, and a rapist gets off with a slap on the wrist. The number one cause of rape is a rapist–it’s as simple as that. There are no strings attached, and no “two sides to the story.”
To prevent a rape from happening in the first place, we need to go back to the source. This means instead of telling our daughters to be afraid of the darkness, to cover up, to carry pepper spray, and always travel in a group, we need to turn the tables. We need to look at our sons, and teach them how to respect women! We need to teach our young high school boys that a girl is not an object, and should never be treated as one. We need to promote that sex should be a form of love, and that “no” ALWAYS means “no.” Maybe if our views of the opposite gender weren’t so demoralizing, then maybe I would be able to walk the streets of Castro Valley alone without my key fob replacement hidden in my shoe and a keychain pepper spray and rape whistle, and still feel safe.